Canada probes Saudi use of its equip­ment

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Canada warned Satur­day it was re­view­ing re­ports that Saudi Ara­bia is us­ing Cana­dian ar­mored ve­hi­cles in a crack­down in the Sunni-ruled king­dom’s Shi­ite-ma­jor­ity east. “We are look­ing at th­ese claims very se­ri­ously... and have im­me­di­ately launched a review,” Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, speak­ing in French, said in dur­ing a visit in cen­tral Canada.

The Globe and Mail re­ported ear­lier that light ar­mored ve­hi­cles sold by Canada to Saudi Ara­bia had been used against Shia civil­ians in a ma­jor op­er­a­tion that left sev­eral peo­ple in the town of Awamiya in Eastern Prov­ince. Ex­perts told the news­pa­per that ve­hi­cles ap­pear­ing in pho­tos and videos of the Saudi op­er­a­tions were Gurkha RPVs pro­duced by Ter­ra­dyne Ar­mored Ve­hi­cles near Toronto.

Ear­lier, a spokesman in­di­cated that For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land was “deeply con­cerned about this sit­u­a­tion and has asked of­fi­cials to review it im­me­di­ately. ”“If it is found that Cana­dian ex­ports have been used to com­mit se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights, the min­is­ter will take ac­tion,” added spokesman John Bab­cock.

“The gov­ern­ment is ac­tively seek­ing more in­for­ma­tion about Saudi Ara­bia’s cur­rent ef­forts to deal with its se­cu­rity chal­lenges, the re­ports of civil­ian ca­su­al­ties, and the re­ports that Cana­dian-made ve­hi­cles have been used by Saudi Ara­bia in its cur­rent se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions,” he said in a state­ment. “Canada will review all avail­able in­for­ma­tion as it de­ter­mines an ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion.” Bab­cock said Ot­tawa had shared its con­cerns with Saudi Ara­bia, de­mand­ing that “its in­ter­nal se­cu­rity op­er­a­tions be con­ducted in a man­ner con­sis­tent with in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law.” The con­tro­ver­sial $13 bil­lion US con­tract to sup­ply Riyadh with light ar­mored ve­hi­cles was struck by the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment. Trudeau’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has had to de­fend this con­tract against crit­i­cism that it may have vi­o­lated Canada’s ex­port con­trol rules that bar arms ex­ports to coun­tries with a poor hu­man rights record and the pro­hibit us­ing th­ese weapons against civil­ians.

Free­land’s pre­de­ces­sor, Stephane Dion, had stated in April 2016 that the gov­ern­ment would halt or re­voke the ex­port li­cense for the mil­i­tary equip­ment if cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion showed it was be­ing used in­ap­pro­pri­ately. “We have con­tracts in which peo­ple com­mit to re­spect Cana­dian laws, the terms of the con­tract and Cana­dian values, and we ex­pect th­ese con­tracts to be re­spected,” Trudeau said. Ear­lier this week, Canada had al­ready ex­pressed con­cerns about the grow­ing vi­o­lence in Saudi Ara­bia, and urged Riyadh to “defuse ten­sions.” “All such chal­lenges must be ad­dressed in a man­ner that abides by in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights law,” the state­ment added.

Con­tro­ver­sial deal

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